By Emily Sampl
BOULDER, Colorado, April 30. PAUL Biedermann, Marco Koch, Jenny Mensing and more of Germany’s top swimmers will battle for national championship titles in their respective events as the German Long Course National Championships get underway tomorrow in Berlin. Several exciting matchups are on tap for the weekend – here are a few of the swimmers and races to keep an eye on.
Jenny Mensing looks to be the class of the field in the women’s backstroke events, with the top seed time in the 50 back (28.94), 100 back (1:01.02) and 200 back (2:10.06). Mensing holds the German national record in the 200 back at 2:08.30, and could potentially take down that time with a solid swim. Lisa Graf may challenge her for those titles, however, with a 28.98 in the 50 back and 2:13.40 in the 200. On the men’s side, Christian Deiner (200 back, 1:59.43) Yannick Lebherz (200 back, 2:00.10), Nicolas Graesser (100 back, 55.04) and Jan-Philip Glania (50 back, 24.50) should be factors for individual titles.
Sprints and Breaststroke
Dorothea Brandt will be busy at the meet with a full lineup of sprint events. Brandt enters the meet with the best seed time in the women’s 50 breast (30.99), 50 fly (26.83) and 50 free (24.90), and second-best in the 100 free (55.47). Her 50 breast time ranks seventh internationally this year and is only .22 shy of the German national record of 30.77, held by Kerstin Vogel. Her 50 free time sits 12th in the world, and she’ll no doubt be looking to move up a few spots.
Caroline Runhau should challenge for both sprint breaststroke titles, as she’s the second seed behind Brandt in the 50 and the top seed in the 100 at 1:08.95. Vanessa Grimberg (1:09.21) and Julia Willers (1:09.43) will be hot on her heels in that event, while Grimberg should run away with the 200 breast title as she’s the top seed by more than four seconds at 2:26.90.
Henrik Feldwehr will look to break into the top 30 world rankings in the men’s 50 breast as he enters the meet with a seed time of 27.90. Steffen Diebler should be the big favorite in the men’s 50 fly, as his seed time of 23.66 is more than half a second ahead of Philip Heintz’s 24.33, and a little more than half a second off the best performance of 2014 – Roland Schoeman’s 23.07 from South African nationals. In the 100 free, Deibler will battle Bjorn Hornikel and Paul Biedermann, and all three swimmers come in with high 49s.
Feldwehr will also vie for the men’s 100 breast title, but will have to contend with Marco Koch in that event, who owns the fastest seed time of 1:00.64, which he posted in February at the Luxembourg Euro-Meet. A sub-1:00 performance from Koch this weekend would push him into the top six internationally for 2014. Koch could make a huge dent in the 200 breast as well with the top time of 2:08.84, just a second outside the top time in the world this year, a 2:07.79 turned in by Great Britain’s Michael Jamieson earlier this month.
Franziska Hentke leads the way in the women’s 200 fly and should run away with that event. Her season-best of 2:07.74 ranks seventh in the world and is more than five seconds faster than her next closest competitor in the event, Alexandra Wenk (2:13.19). She’s also within striking distance of Annika Mehlhorn’s national record of 2:06.45 from the 2009 FINA World Championships. Hentke and Wenk are also the frontrunners in the 100 fly, with Wenk leading the way in 59.49 and Hentke close behind in 1:00.08. Steffen Deibler (52.13) sits atop the men’s 100 fly rankings and will have his sights on the top time of 2014. He’s currently fifth, just outside Takuro Fuji’s 51.84 from Japan’s national championships earlier this month.
Leonie Antonia Beck has a chance to double up in the women’s distance events as the top seed in the 800 free (8:37.06) and second seed in the 1500 free (16:41.82). She’ll need to drop a significant chunk of time to win the mile, however, as Isabelle Harle owns the top time at 16:18.02. Harle is currently ranked sixth in the world, and a sub-16:11 swim would slingshot her up to second behind Mireia Belmonte Garcia’s 15:58.07.
The men’s mid-distance freestyle events are shaping up to be an interesting race between a couple of swimmers. In the 200 free, Paul Biedermann (1:47.13), Clemens Rapp (1:49.21), Dimitri Colupaev (1:49.45) and Yannick Lebherz (1:49.81) should put on a show. Rapp is also seeded first in the 400 free with a 3:52.95, while Biedermann is fifth in that event, which he holds the world record in. Rapp will also factor in in the men’s 800 and 1500 freestyles, though he’ll have his hands full in the shorter distance. Rapp enters the meet with the top time in the 1500 at 15:22.57, but will need to overtake Soren Meibner (8:09.25) and Florian Vogel (8:09.92) in order to win the 800; Rapp is seeded between those two with an 8:09.30.
Theresa Michalak (200 IM, 2:14.92) and Franziska Hentke (400 IM, 4:44.99) lead the women’s individual medley events, both by comfortable margins. Michalak is seeded first by nearly two seconds in the 200 IM, but could be pushed by second seed Kathrin Demler, who comes in with a time of 2:16.71. On the men’s side, Philip Heintz will look to break 2:00 in the 200 IM for the first time this season, as he enters the meet with a 2:00.37. He’ll have to deal with German record holder Markus Deibler, however, who’s seeded second with a 2:02.79. A sub-2:00 performance could put Heintz inside the top 15 rankings for 2014. Yannick Lebherz will look to double up in the men’s 200 back and 400 IM, as he comes into the meet with the fastest IM time of 4:14.84, which ranks ninth internationally.